Month: December 2015

31st Annual Middle East History and Theory Conference: THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

19524-580x481May 6–7, 2016

We invite graduate students, affiliated faculty, and independent scholars from a broad range of disciplines to submit proposals on any topic concerning the Middle East and Islamic world from the advent of Islam to the present day. Disciplinary focuses include but are not limited to: history, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, literature, philosophy, art history, cinema and media studies, gender studies, and diaspora studies. If you are unsure about the suitability of your topic, feel free to email us (see address below). Approximately 50 papers will be selected and arranged into themed panels of three or four.

Individual submissions and preformed panels are both welcome, though the latter is especially encouraged. Participants should be prepared to deliver a maximum twenty-minute presentation and respond to questions or comments from an assigned discussant. Written papers should be circulated to panel members at least two weeks before the conference.

Application. Please send submissions electronically to by no later than Friday, February 12, 2016. Please include each presenter’s name, institution, and position (graduate student, professor, independent scholar, etc.), and attach a 250-word abstract with a tentative title. The best abstracts will summarize the paper’s topic, its relationship and contribution to existing scholarship and specific conclusions. Abstracts will be collated by an assistant and evaluated anonymously by the coordinators; therefore, please do not include names or any identifying information in the abstract. Selection results will be announced in the middle of March 2016.

Sponsored panels. As in previous years, two of our sponsors are offering limited funding to support special panels in the following fields: (1) modern Arabic literature and (2) Central Eurasian studies. Participants chosen for one of these panels may be eligible for a modest travel subsidy. Those interested should submit their abstracts according to the process outlined above, with a note indicating their interest in being a part of one of these sponsored panels. Applicants not placed on a special panel will still receive full consideration for the general conference. Please circulate widely. Updates and announcements will be shared on the MEHAT website and Facebook page.

For all inquiries, please write to

Conference Coordinators:

Mariam Sheibani PhD Student, NELC University of Chicago

Amir Toft PhD Student, NELC University of Chicago

Narrating the Arab Spring

Spring 2016 Course:
CLSC 3888
W 2:00 – 4:45PM
In English
Professor: Amara Lakhous
Click here for the flyer.

The Arab Spring was a political, social, and cultural earthquake. In a short period of time, four dictators were forced out of office: in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. While each case must be studied separately, the very fact of their overthrow is proof that the Arab world is not homogeneous. In Tunisia and Egypt, the uprisings were successful because certain elements of modernity, including a strong civil society, existed. Tunisia, for example, promulgated its first constitution in 1861; Egypt formed its first parliament in 1866, just five years after the unification of Italy. The situation differed in Yemen, Libya and Syria, societies based on tribes and clans, without the necessary elements of the modern state. Our study will encompass and confront these realities.

Our attempt to understand the Arab Spring will be based on the narratives of writers, filmmakers,artists, photographers, cartoonists, musicians, etc. We shall attempt to analyze the Arab Spring within its three essential time frames: before, during, and, especially, the aftermath. We shall examine causes and effects: What role did corruption play in the advent of the Arab Spring? Why was non-violence understood as essential to its success? Why did the violence of the military and the fundamentalists result in the failure of these revolutions? Why did certain Arab countries “miss” their Arab Spring?